Top 5 Podcasts by Sistas

So, I may be the last person on earth that’s finally gotten into podcasts but I’m so glad I did!  Morning commutes are so much better by starting the day with a hearty chuckle or the feeling like you can do whatever you set your mind to. So, as we find our groove in 2019, I thought it would be fitting to list my Top Five Podcasts by Sistas!

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Jesus & Jollof

This is the newest podcast but it doesn’t hold back when it comes to making their mark.  Luvvie Ajayi and Yvonne Orji are the friends you hangout with at a kickback and laugh all night. These proud Nigerian women give us insight on what life is like growing up for them in America but never losing their roots. The started off their first episode letting us know that they named their Podcast Jesus & Jollof because those are two things they can’t live with out. Topics range from Nigerian love languages, From bottom to breakthrough and more. But don’t let the laughs fool you, they are also dropping knowledge geared towards success in all aspects of your life, with a reminder that Jesus is the foundation of their life.

 

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Hey Aunty!

Self-described as “fireside chats with black women who’ve been there”.  Hey Aunty! is taped in Australia and has a global reach dedicated to honor and love our Blackness. I’ve been listening for the past few months, and I love that black folks share experiences and similarities no matter what part of the world we reside in. Shared experiences, positive and otherwise, like figuring out if you still be code switching or asking why we are like this, will have you nodding your head and waving your hand in agreement, all while getting insight from our sistas from down under.

 

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Side Hustle Pro

I grew up being told that it’s important to have multiple streams of income.  When I got to college, my side hustle was doing hair. So, this podcast was right up my alley.  Known as the “first and only podcast to spotlight bold, black women entrepreneurs who have scaled from side hustle to profitable business”.  Side Hustle Pro has the best to ever do it  share their secrets like how to kick imposter syndrome to the curb or what it’s like to launch a chocolate factory in Harlem.  Do you have a side hustle and you’re looking for motivation on how to have it grow? This podcast is for you and anyone who’s simply looking for motivation.

 

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Small Doses Amanda Seales

According to my best friend, Amanda Seals is my kindred spirit and insisted that I check out her podcast. Known as “your favorite truth teller” Amanda gives insight on how to navigate life with real, raw, and relevant information. From the side effects of not having kids, to toxic masculinity and being outspoken, her episodes are engaging and entertaining.

 

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Rants & Randomness with Luvvie Ajayi

If you’re looking for consistent motivation/gem dropping from people who’ve been there mixed with society and pop culture, this is your podcast.  I tune in to my fellow Chicagoan with my notepad ready to receive all the information her show gives out.  Luvvie discusses trusting your gut, loving radically, and even saving edges! This podcast is where you see just how magical our people truly are.

 

Now I want to hear from you. Have you listened to any of the Podcasts in my top five? If so what are your thoughts?  What Podcasts are you currently listening to?

Share in the comments below and help a Sista grow her Library!

Focus On School They Said, Everything Else Will Fall Into Place They Said…

“Don’t worry about all that… focus on school, don’t have no babies and when you’re done, everything else will fall into place.” People in my life

A decade later, things still seem like they haven’t fell in place. I will be the first to admit that I had plans to be married by 25, kids by 28, and living happily ever after.  Quiet as it’s kept, I would still love to have that (minus the age limits). That was honestly my plan when I was 19 and in undergrad, but as the years went by, that clearly wasn’t the case. So, here’s a short list of things I’ve heard as the years passed: the good, bad, and absolutely ridiculous.

giphy-2.gif*When I graduated from college* I’m so excited for you getting your degree and all, but you know, time is ticking. Now that you got that out of the way, you need to focus on your future with your man and hopefully your family. | Now let me be clear, I shut down completely anytime I hear “you need” or “you know what you need to do”. Beyond that, at the time, I felt that should have been the focus, but the pressure people can put on you can take over, if you let it. 

*Every time my unrealistic timelines passed*  Don’t worry about that. Keep focusing on you and your career. I promise you everything will fall in place. | I high key believed this one with all my heart, and I did just that. I continued to focus on my career.

*When I returned to school for my masters degree* That’s right girl! Get that degree and secure that career. You know everything else will come in due time. -AND- Dang you in school again?!?!? You must like being in school because you clearly ain’t looking for no man. I mean that’s what I was doing, but it felt like this was almost a pity comment. I completely ignored that looking-for-a-man comment because I knew that was their own issues and not mine. In the words of my kindred spirit Rihanna…

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*When I started my doctoral program *You know what? I don’t think you should tell a man about your degrees. No man wants a woman more achieved than him. It emasculates him. You want a man, right?! | This was the most confusing question I got because it unnecessarily called my sexuality into question (which is, again, more about the person making the statement’s sexuality security than my own). There were so many layers to this that the discussion and lessons I discussed could be a topic of it’s own. But I will leave it at this; people will try your entire life and some times you have to gather them right on up and send them on their way.

*At the end of my 30’s* Well you can always be that “fast” auntie who travels the world and simply live your best life. Just live sis. 

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This last one has stuck with me over the past decade, and that’s simply to just live. Do the questions stop coming? No. Will the unsolicited advice continue? Yes. But the one thing I have ownership over is what I do with my time and energy. I determine how I live the life I have, and I write the chapters in them. So, I’ll continue to live my best life (sans the timelines or pressure), full of memories and hearty laughs.

When Life Happens…

At the start of my doctoral journey, one of my professors had a real, raw, and relevant conversation with my cohort. It started with her simply saying “Life Happens” and she paused, looked at us and repeated, “Life Happens”.  She talked about her stories of seeing divorces, deaths, sickness, job shifts, etc. happening to students on this journey and she finished it by saying “how you handle it and what you decide to do with it up to you”.  We heard her but I’m not sure we were truly listening; that is until once of our “family” (cohort) members told us that her mother passed unexpectedly.

What I’m about to post couldn’t be made up if I tried but this is what happened to my “family”.

At the start of our second year our first “family” member lost her mom and after the first year of losing so many cohort members, we had grew close. We thought about her and if she would push through or step away since a few weeks went by and we didn’t see her. Finally, she came in and we had cards and flowers for her and welcomed hugs.  When this happened a lot of us thought how would we push through. Then another “family” member lost his father and his mother within months of each other. Again support was ready for him if he came back, and you know what? He did. Then I got a call that my father was sick and they were there and celebrated when he beat it.  But then my father got hit again and this time it was terminal, I had no clue how I would go through the year holding the weight of losing my father and focus on school. My parents are retired teachers so they were very clear that my focus should be on my education and they had each other, so I stayed and traveled home often on the weekends. When my father passed I lost motivation because I was brave for a year and now I was deflated. I put on a good face and smiled and pushed through but when I went home I was lonely, sad, and I felt like my heart got ripped out of my chest. So life happened… to all of us so how did we handle it?

  1. As a cohort, we grew close and called ourselves “The Family” and that’s what we were. When life happened we were there for each other whether it was a phone call, text, cards, flowers, or even office visits. Having that sense of family reminded us that what we did was greater than a moment in “life”.

 

  1. Communicating with professors was key to ensure they understood what was going on and to make sure you were able to make updates missed. At my institution, you can contact the division of student affairs and they can also send a notice out to the professors.

 

  1. Remembering why you started has a different meaning when life happens because you truly question it. For me I didn’t want to finish because of the thought of not having my Daddy there and how bittersweet it will be, I wasn’t ready to face it so I avoided writing. What snapped me back is I found my Daddy’s bucket list and seeing me get my doctorate was on there.
  2. Seek counseling if needed and if your institution offers sessions (some have the first few sessions free) take advantage of it. For me, I subscribed to a 365 daily affirmations that really helped me through my first year dealing with my Daddy not being there and provided me with journaling that in turn became an awesome tribute to his life and so much more.

Again life happens and although it may not look like our story, it will show up in some way. If it’s happened to you on this Doctoral Journey or period, leave a comment below with advice on how to persist through.

Here Come the Questions: 25 Things NO Grad Student Wants to Hear

 As the graduate school years go by you will find that you will be hit questions left and right.

Ugh…

At some point, they will start to haunt you like the Thriller MJ taught us about. And while most people mean no harm,  it begins to feel like people are intentionally disrupting your space and happiness as if you’ve failed to meet some sort of internal deadline they set for you. 

If you’re like me, you need to hear no matter how many questions you’re asked, their words don’t define you. Besides, it’s  like I always say, your journey is your own. But for now lets just chuckle and side eye at some of the most commonly said things on this journey called graduate study–

  1. So you’re like a medical Doctor?

  2. Why does it take so long for you to graduate?

  3. When do you graduate?

  4. Are you done yet?

  5. You must really like school, you can’t stay away.

  6. Are you done yet?

  7. You have to write how many pages?

  8. So what are you going to do with that degree?

  9. You don’t really need a doctorate.

  10. Why didn’t you get a Ph.D? No one respects an Ed.D (mainly comes from people not getting their Doctorate)

  11. You getting a Doctorate? You’re going to be single forever, no man wants a woman who has it all together.

  12. That Doctorate is intimidating to men so maybe you shouldn’t bring it up.

  13. Are you done yet?

  14. So when are you gonna get done?

  15. How are you not done? It’s been forever.

  16. You’re better than me, I would never.

  17. YOU’RE getting your Doctorate degree? Oh wow… (usually said by shocked white people who then follow up with “isn’t affirmative action awesome”? or some other idiotic excuse to make them feel better)

  18. I mean it shouldn’t take long to write a book, I can write a book so why is it taking so long for you?

  19. You want to get done don’t you?

  20. If I were you…

  21. You know what you need to do? You need to…

  22. You’re done with classes so why aren’t you graduating?

  23. I don’t get it.

  24. You don’t need it to be successful.

  25. So when are you done?

So what do you think about this list? How many of them have you heard already? Do you feel it helps or hinders your process? What would you add to the list? Post your thoughts in the comments below.

A Cautionary Tale *With Advice!*for Doctoral Students

“I’ve been robbed!” and then the tears fell.

“My entire Dissertation is on there what do I do?!? Somebody help me!” more tears fell.

This happened to somebody I knew who had their laptop stolen and had planned to graduate in less than 12 weeks. The look of distraught on their face shook me to the core and made me think, what if that was me? How would I handle this situation? Is there anyway to prevent having the feeling they had? 

 

I decided to reach out to Doctoral students who recently graduated this past year and asked them for advice for those of us who are navigating the college experience and here’s what they said:

“Don’t do what I did; please get an external hard drive and keep extra copies of your work. I heard people say get on but I figured why would I waste my money? That is until I lost my ENTIRE dissertation and didn’t back up any of my information. My heart sank when it happened and the only saving grace that I had is that I had turned in my chapters to my chair however that was before all the edits. I had to rewrite ALL the edits and remember what articles I pulled and other relatable things that I saved to my desktop that are now gone.”

“I celebrated the little things. If I made it through a semester, or if I added a paragraph to my chapter I celebrated it! Sometimes you can get so busy in the hustle and bustle of classes and writing that you forget to pause and celebrate the little things. This helped me refocus and motivated me to move forward in this program.”

“Don’t compare yourself to everyone else.  I always felt I wasn’t good enough and I moved at a much slower pace than everyone else but you know what, I graduated just like everyone else.”

“I had a hard time focusing so a friend told me to try using the pomodoro method (google tomato timer) and you know what it helped me focus. This method had a series of times where you focus on your work and you take short and long breaks along the way. Knowing I had a break coming kept me for drifting into my social media and staying there. Once I got used to this method I then shifted to setting a plan where I wrote down my goals for each session and checked off each time I completed it. I saved those sheets and I was in awe at how much I completed especially at times when I felt like I didn’t do anything.”

“Understand that your chair/committee will be your colleagues one day. They play a pivotal role in your doctoral journey and beyond: chose wisely.”

“Don’t take the feedback from your work personal, remember their goal is to get you to the finish line. Writing at the doctoral level is different and you often feel that you’re over citing at times but you’re not. Keep the APA format book near and know that in time you will be fluent in APA.”

This by no means is a comprehensive post on advice for Doctoral Students so we would like to hear from you.  Post in the comments below and let us know what advice have you received? What about those of you working… How does advice about a dissertation project mirror your experiences in the office setting. Let us know!

“You Are Built For This”: Countering Imposter Syndrome

Getting into a doctoral program was the most exciting part of my educational journey because there was a time when I felt that it was an unobtainable goal. After all, I was kicked out of school due to poor grades, and the president of the institution told me I wasn’t “college material” and that I should pick up a trade.Although potentially quite lucrative, picking up a trade would not have worked for me because nothing in trade school reflected my passion. I wanted to work in a field where I could make a difference in the lives of our youth with a specific focus on African American students who looked like me. I wanted to work with the ones that people passed off because they were “rough” and “not scholars”. I had a particular passion for the ones who came from neighborhoods like mine where the odds were against them before they were even given a chance to show what they’re made of. It’s my mission to change the narrative.

For as long as I could remember, I have always wanted to work in a field where I could make a difference in the lives of our youth–a goal that has a specific focus on African American students who looked like me. I wanted to work with the students that people passed off because they were “rough” or not seen as “scholars”. I have a particular passion, you see, for the students who come from neighborhoods like mine where the odds are stacked against them well before they were even given a chance to show the world what they’re made of. It’s my mission to change the narrative. 

I consider it my mission to change the narrative around these students because I am one.  

Wasalu Jaco and I attended the same high school:  Thornton Township High School in Harvey, IL. One of my favorite quotes he ever spoke was, “This ain’t a pen, it’s paintbrush and I intend to rearrange how they paint us”.  Perhaps you know Wasalu Jaco better by his stage name “Lupe Fiacso”, but when he penned those very lyrics, they resonated with me and have since become my mantra. 

So, I started my first week of school. I remember being so happy and excited to be on the road to Dr. Randolph, but as the weeks rolled by, I began to question if I was supposed to be there. I didn’t understand some of the words my classmates spoke, and I would, at times, ask for words to be repeated so I could write them down and look them up. The papers and writing expectations have grown longer, and there have been many times I have run out of words before reaching the page minimum.  As I have moved closer to doctoral completion, I have found myself questioning if I was built for this and began feeling like an imposter. Never mind the application process, interviews, writing sample and everything it took to get to this point; I felt I wasn’t worthy. 

So, how am I overcoming these feelings?  How can you if/when you find yourself faced with feelings like mine?

  1. Remind yourself that you are built for this. You’ve played a role in your success and there’s no way you could’ve made it this far by being an imposter.
  2. Lean on your friends, family, students, etc. There’s something energizing about how proud loved ones are of you.  My grandfather (called Hot Poppie, not Grandfather), to this day, answers the phone saying “Dr. Randolph!” whenever I talk to him, and it gives me a surge of excitement to hear how proud he is. He tells people “We have a Dr. in the family.” Loved ones (by blood or bond) will be your cheerleaders, accountability partners, and at times, will know when you need to just talk.
  3. Ask yourself what is making you feel like an imposter and write it down. There are always things we could work on to be better. For me, I noticed that I felt like an imposter because I wasn’t completing my assignments early and I had struggles. I faced it and asked members in my cohort for help and tips. Sometimes simply writing things out and taking action, if needed, can make self doubt disappear.
  4. I’ve said this before and I’ll say this again, your journey is YOURS and YOURS alone! It’s so easy to be in class and start comparing yourself to the person who knocked out that 30 page paper with ease and, in turn, it makes you feel you should be done too.  Focus on you, and stay on the path to your own journey to Dr.(insert name).

Overcoming imposter syndrome is a lifelong journey–in those moments where you feel alone, remember you have me and the rest of the Cite A Sista family in your corner. Happy fall 2017 graduate students, this year is yours for the taking!

No Excuse In the World Will Keep You From Your Destiny

The last time I posted I found myself talking about the promise I made to my Uncle to complete my Doctorate degree. Upon re-reading the way I decided to share, I realize how I came to actually apply left me in a corner.

Before graduate school, I went away to New York to work for a few years when I made a decision to return to Kansas City for a great job and for the, then, love of my life (now ex). When I moved back I had the mindset that moving home solely for love and a job wasn’t enough for me. This led me back to something I always told myself: I need to pursue my doctorate.

“While you’re here get your Doctorate” kept creeping in.

So I worked for a few years and got comfortable and convinced myself that Dr. Randolph will happen… later. I hated writing and although I was great at it I had no desire of writing a book (yes, you’re writing a book) and that was all the excuse I needed at the time… That is until I got confronted by my former professor. I was at my Graduate Assistants graduation and while I was celebrating with her, my former professor from my higher education program came over to congratulate her and then she turned to me and smirked. I knew something was coming and as I prepared myself she simply said: “Why haven’t you applied to the Doctorate Program yet?” I felt the air leave my lungs.

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I had all the “excuses” ready and replied, “I honestly don’t like writing and the thought of writing a book is exhausting.” She took a step forward and got closer to me and said “Who said that everyone with their Doctorate likes writing? You will be surrounded by support and you will write some of your chapters in your classes with detailed tips along the way. What else you got?”

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I took a step back (I have an invisible box and she was in it) and said: “I honestly don’t desire doing research for the rest of my life and I want to be on the Administrative side of the house with the option to teach.” She took another step forward and said “You’ve clearly been researching the Ph.D. and not the Ed.D. program. What else?”  She was so right! At that time there was a stigma that the Ph.D. was held in high regard and the Ed.D. program was something that people wouldn’t take serious and I believed it at the time.

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I took another step back and said “I don’t know if I can balance school and my job.  Working in my field means meeting students where they are and that meant programming early mornings, midday, late nights, and weekends.” She took another step forward and said “You’ve done it before you can do it again, the school pays for your education and your job will work with you. What else?”  At this point, I ran out of “excuses” and space to take a step back. I was literally backed into a corner. She looked at me with a smirk on her face and said: “I look forward to reviewing your application” and walked away.  I was speechless.

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To this day I appreciate being hemmed up in a corner and being forced to confront my “excuses” head on to learn they weren’t the end of my doctoral potential. As I reflect on this part of my journey I am reminded of 3 things I wish I had known:

  1. It is easy to convince yourself that doctoral study is not something you want at this moment… but if not now, when? In a time of budget cuts educational assistance programs can often be the first thing cut. If your job or institution you work with pays for it, take advantage of that benefit while it’s still there.
  2. Your journey is YOURS and yours alone. I learned real quick that some will try to criticize your path. In my case it was the decision to go with my Ed.D. and not my Ph.D., but one thing I learned is that people I heard criticism from the most didn’t have their doctorate at all. *That’s the gag* As I went through my program I realized that stigma never kept opportunities from coming my way as I advanced in my career and when I graduate the critics will call me “Dr. Randolph”. So again be confident in your journey and remember no one should be the author of your life but you.
  3. Life has a funny way of giving you signs that let you know when it’s time and if you don’t pay attention it will hem you up in a corner (literally) and tell you directly what you’ve been ignoring.

A wise person once told me “Excuses…build bridges to nowhere.” and that’s why you see them in quotation marks throughout this post because I used excuses to nearly prevent myself from receiving what was destined for me.

My Doctoral Journey Began With Two Words…

“I Promise…”

Those were the last words I told my Uncle as his lifeless body lay on the hospital bed.   It was New Years Eve and I came home from New York to celebrate with my parents.   What was supposed to be one of the best nights of my life quickly became the worst when we received a call that my uncle had been rushed to the hospital.  On the ride to the hospital, I said a silent prayer for God’s will to be done.  I never thought in a million years that God’s will would be to take my uncle away from us.  My parents let me out the car. I went into the hospital to asked for his room, but this time was different.

They sent me into a room where my aunt, uncle’s girlfriend, and pastor were gathered.  Without saying a word, I knew he was gone.  The sequence of events that followed felt like a dream to me.   One by one, family members came to find out that my uncle didn’t make it.   While they all went to the room where my uncle’s body was, I stayed with his girlfriend.   I couldn’t bear seeing my uncle like that.  How could this be happening?  Things got even tougher when my grandparents came into the room.  No one was there (or was able) to tell them what happened,  which left me facing the hardest conversation of my life.  “He didn’t make it…” was the only thing I could get out.   The way they looked at me shook me to the core.   It was as if my words took a piece of their heart out.  I literally saw their hearts breaking right in front of me. That was painful.

While the family when in the room with my Uncle I still stayed outside of the room still confused and scared to see him.  Finally, I went in there and we all just stood around him, some crying, some praying, and there I was quiet and staring at him praying this was a dream.  Finally, my Grandmother looked at me and said “Life is like a vapor…”  and looked back down at him rubbing his hand.  While people began to leave I still couldn’t move.  I asked the members of the family who were still in the room to give me a minute with him alone.  When they stepped out, I stepped closer to him with so many thoughts going through my head.  I touched his hand and he was still warm which sent me into a state of denial and all I could say is “Move… Please Move… Please… Please Uncle Arnold… Move… Please…”  Tears streaming down my face I realize that he would not move.  It was at that point I thought about coming home from my first year back in school, after getting kicked out (I’ll share that story at a later date).  I saw my Uncle during Christmas break and he asked me “How are your grades this semester?”    I replied, “I got a 3.6 GPA!”   He gave me this look of such pride and shook his fist and nodded his head.   That reaction spoke volumes to me and is a constant motivator for me.   As I stood by the hospital bed and looked at his lifeless body I leaned over and whispered in his ear, “I Promise You, I will set the bar for our family, I Promise I will get the highest degree attainable and make you proud… I Promise You… I Love You… I Promise…”   That was 8 years ago, and so far I have kept part of my promise.   I’ve attained my Master’s degree and I’m proud to say that  I got accepted into the Doctoral Program at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and will be graduating soon. I have learned so many things along the way and I excited to share this journey with you.  Every month will cover areas that will be encouraging, informative, and downright hilarious.  So whether you’re getting your Doctorate or considering it; welcome!

~LaShaundra